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Bara Brith - Fresh From The Oven Challenge for October

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Bara Brith was baked by Beca Lyne Pirkis on The Great British Bake Off last week and I thought it would be a fab recipe for Fresh From The Oven this month. Beca is one of my favourite contestants because she seems like someone you could have a right laugh and natter down the pub with, and she's a busy Mum like me.  Bara Brith is a Welsh speciality and translates to ‘speckled bread’. It is a rich fruit loaf made with tea, there are a great many recipes, some use yeast and some do not.  I asked a couple of Welsh Mums that I know how they make theirs and combined/adapted the best bits of both recipes into the recipe outlined below.  My house smelt lovely whilst the loaf was baking and it was a welcome and tasty after school snack for my 3 daughters.

The Fresh From The Oven Challenge took a break over the summer and I thought this recipe would ease us all back into the loveliness of bread baking now the heat of the summer has been replaced with crisp autumn mornings and chillier evenings.  See details of how the challenge works here.

This loaf is deliciously rich and fruity, great with an afternoon cuppa or a treat for breakfast.  Eat the loaf within 1 - 2 days of baking or freeze for later.

Bara Brith

450g strong white bread flour
80g brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
50g unsalted butter, chopped
250ml milk, warmed
2 sachets instant dried yeast
170g sultanas
50g mixed peel (I leave this out if baking for my children as they dislike it with a passion!)
375ml freshly brewed tea (I usually use English Breakfast or Earl Grey)
Oil to grease proving bowl
30ml/2 Tblsp honey, warmed to glaze baked loaf

Combine the flour, brown sugar and mixed spice in a large bowl.  Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk and yeast then mix until well combined and a soft dough has formed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough in a stand mixer for 7 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove until doubled in size, this usually takes about an hour in our house.

Whilst the dough is proving soak the sultanas and mixed peel, if using, in freshly brewed tea.  Set aside for 1 hour for the fruit to soak up the tea and swell.  After an hour drain the fruit really well, if the fruit is too wet tip it out onto paper kitchen towel and gently pat it dry.

I used a 22cm x 11cm loaf tin to bake my Bara Brith in.  Grease the tin lightly with a little oil then line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper, this will make the loaf much easier to remove from the tin once cooked.  Alternatively, use a paper liner like I did, they are really handy to have if you bake often.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Shape the dough into a rough 25cm square then sprinkle the prepared sultanas and mixed peel over the top.  Fold the sides of the dough over the fruit mixture and gently knead the dough for 5 minutes to evenly distribute the fruit through the dough.  Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf tin and cover loosely with clingfilm.  Set aside to prove again until doubled in size.

Whilst the dough proves a second time, preheat your oven to 190°C.  Bake the loaf for 1 hour.  Check the loaf after 30 - 45 minutes and cover the top loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly.  Once baked the loaf should sound hollow when turned out and tapped on the bottom.

Leave the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Brush with the warmed honey. Set aside the loaf to cool completely. Cut into slices and serve.

Now it's your turn! Have a go using this Bara Brith recipe or your own, make sure it is a recipe that uses yeast, and link up using the linky tool below.

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